At this point it would be sort of shocking if the Leafs were able to hire a general manager prior to the upcoming draft. Instead they’ll move along with Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas leading the way, two who appear more than capable of raiding talent from the junior ranks.
However, there are still major trades to be made and free agents to be signed at some point, so maybe another voice in the room is preferred, but it’s tough to nail down a timeline according to Shanahan.
“Right now we’re focusing on getting ready for the draft. It’s a possibility, [but] I’m comfortable with the group right now [and] how they’ve been working together. I’ve actually been very pleased with how the group has been working together and the relationships that are being established with some other teams throughout the league….It would be my preference [to have a full-time GM in place] but if we have to go in a different direction we will.”
The Leafs appear to be doing fine with their current setup, and Shanahan actually went on to say that teams are calling them about a number of players, not just Kessel and Phaneuf, so they certainly aren’t shying away from typical duties you’d allot to a more experienced NHL manager. They’ve also repeatedly hit home the importance they’re placing on the draft, so that likely factors into their search as well, since the rules regarding compensation would have them handing over a pick in exchange for someone to head up their front office if they stay within the league.
They’ve been linked to names like Mike Futa, George McPhee, and most notably Jeff Gorton over the last few weeks, but it’s been difficult to gauge their level of interest (though we should note the Leafs have reportedly been denied from interviewing Gorton since the Rangers’ playoff exit).
It may seem a little strange to go into what many view as the most important offseason in the team’s history without a titled general manager, and I’m sure it’ll result in some awful Toronto Sun hit pieces about Shanahan’s lack of urgency, but this is no typical front office. As Dreger mentioned last month, “Toronto seems to want to re-write what is, or has been, conventional management.”